Filling the gap: creating city video content for Higher Education
Our content strategy –
Several months ago my colleagues and I took part in a workshop to map out the content that we use to promote the University of Dundee. The objective of the workshop was to plan where in the student journey we should use key pieces of content.
I thought at the beginning of the workshop that we would end up with a really clear content strategy, and in some ways we did, but more importantly we discovered some missing pieces of the puzzle. One of the gaps we identified is that we didn’t have a video that showed our prospective students our city. Considering Dundee doesn’t yet have the reputation of cities such as London or Edinburgh, a video telling the story of Dundee needed to be a crucial element of our content plan.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
I had several phone calls with the production team and just one meeting with them. We reviewed lots of reference material and they really understood what I was looking for. Based in Edinburgh, and working with a relatively small budget, I knew that I had to give them as much guidance as possible. The number of filming days would be limited so anything I could do in advance of them arriving in Dundee would be helpful. I pulled together a 100-page reference document featuring photos of possible filming locations. I was under no illusion that they would film all of the locations, but I wanted to arm them with inspiration before they arrived in the city.
Lights, camera, action
Following anxious looks at long-term weather reports, the production team arrived in Dundee and spent just a few days getting the shots they needed. They called upon the enthusiasm of one of our colleagues and featured her in some of the shots. Little did she know that when she agreed to participate she would end up wakeboarding in the invigorating River Tay!
Making it happen
Thus began an attempt on my behalf to make our city video happen. Initially I thought that writing the video brief would be the most important step in the process; however it became clear that to make the video happen in the way that we envisioned it, we not only had to have an excellent brief, but we also had to find the right production company.
The Search is On
I spent a lot of time researching production companies and sent our brief out to quite a few. Some responded to say that they wouldn’t be able to work on the project within our budget and to be honest, I was grateful for that because it narrowed the field. One of the organisations asked if we could increase our budget and when I responded in the negative they came back to me with another solution. With the revised proposal they sent a reference video that hit the exact tone we wanted. I knew then that they would be my top choice. It also helped that one of the directors was a University of Dundee graduate, so I was confident that he would want to portray the city in the best possible light.
I received a first draft back and I loved it. It had the edgy, youthful vibe I was looking for but still showcased the incredible landscape that makes Dundee special. After a few minor edits, consultation with fellow Marketing Managers and approval from our Director of Marketing & Communications, we were ready to launch it.
Linking Print with Digital
Conveniently we signed the video off just as we were about to launch our new prospectus. Rather than launching them separately, we used the video as a hook to entice viewers to take a look at the prospectus.
It was then over to our Communications team who shared the video on our social media channels with the call to action ‘This is Dundee… but don’t just take our word for it – Dundee.ac.uk/prospectus’
They shared the new video on Facebook on 26 February. Facebook was our most successful channel in terms of engagement. By the end of that day, we had a reach of 9.5K, 2.8K video views, 400 reactions, comments and shares, and 985 post clicks.
By the end of the week, we had reached 260,228 people. We had 124K video views, 11K comments, 2K shares and 41K post clicks.
We saw high organic engagement on Twitter, with 9,950 views, 130 retweets and 52 link clicks – reaching a total of 55K people.
On YouTube the video had over 13,000 views.
We also shared the video on Instagram, Linkedin and Snapchat with less impressive results but people were still watching it!
* ‘Literally cannot be more proud to be part of Dundee uni or Dundee itself.’
* ‘I love this city!’
* ‘A braw wee video of bonnie Dundee.’
* ‘Awesome to see such amazing things happening in the city.’
* ‘Might not come from the City but it’s in my heart.’
* ‘Best decision I ever did make’
* ‘Never been to Dundee looks really nice.’
* ‘Looks like a great place to live in or visit’
* ‘Hopefully be going here later this year…! Already got an offer in Film and Philosophy, can’t wait…’
But what about the prospectus
Not only that but our followers were clicking on the prospectus link.
It was clear to see that the video was driving traffic to the prospectus page:
- 25 Feb – 55 page views
- 26 Feb – 304 page views (the day the video was shared on Facebook)
- 27 Feb – 222 page views
- 28 Feb – 128 page views
Physically, we had 107 requests for printed prospectuses to be sent by mail between 16 February and 1 March.
Digitally, we had 207 downloads of the prospectus.
The website hits
What we learned
So, what did we learn from this exercise?
Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve and finding a production company who can translate your brief into that vision is key.
Did the 100 page reference document take me ages? Yes.
Did it help? I think so.
Sometimes, Facebook is your friend
Working in marketing, we frequently hear that it’s time to stop focusing so much energy on Facebook. However, on this occasion our video was exactly what our Facebook followers wanted to see – so it grew organically very quickly.
Digital and print can work together
Could we have simply posted the video and waited to see results? Definitely. However, we saw an opportunity to promote the new prospectus at the same time and it worked.
Colleagues from across marketing, communications and web worked together on this. We worked as a team to pull together lots of different elements into a successful digital campaign that supported a print campaign. We brainstormed together and we learned together. By doing this we generated results that we couldn’t have achieved in isolation.
We will continue to use the video to promote the University of Dundee on social media, websites and in email communication with prospective students. Our recruitment team and travelling academics will continue to use it when presenting to prospective students. How long we will be able to use it before we need to update it? Who knows? Dundee is a rapidly changing city and that has implications on the video. But in the meantime, we’re going to continue to share, share, share.